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Largest Cities in New Zealand (2020)

Largest Cities in New Zealand (2020)

Want to know more about the Largest Cities in New Zealand? Here’s an updated list, ranked by size and the total population in 2020.

New Zealand is an island country located in the southwestern region of the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises of two main regions, the North Island and the South Island. The total land area is 263,310 Km², making it the 76th largest country in the world by area


Auckland is the largest city of New Zealand and also its most populous city with a total population of 1,467,800. It is located in the central region of the North Island of New Zealand and is the main economic hub of the country.

It is a major financial center with undisputed strongholds in the commerce, finance and tourism industries. Many of the major multinational corporations are based in the city. The total urban area of Auckland is 1,102.9 square kilometers (425.8 square miles).

Auckland is one of the cultural centers of the entire country as well with several venues of cultural significance and recreational activities spread throughout the city. This includes sailing harbors, stadia for various sports, museums, and parks. The city is also home to world-renowned institutions such as the University of Auckland, the Auckland University of Technology, and Massey University.


Photo: AsiaTravel /


Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Located on the eastern coast of the South Island, the city is also the second-most populous in the country with a total population count of 377,200. The total area of the urban area is 607.73 square kilometers (234.65 square miles).

Historically, Christchurch has had an agricultural economy. This continues on to the present day with significant improvements in the industry achieved through the association of local businesses with the technological and academic institutions.

Christchurch has a unique system of parks spread around the Avon River that flows through the center of the city. It is also one of the main skiing destinations due to its proximity to the Southern Alps as well as a gateway city for Antarctic explorations.


Photo: travellight /


Wellington is the capital of New Zealand located on the southern tip of the North Island. With a population of 215,400, it ranks as the third-largest city but its urban area is the second-most populous in the country with a total of 418,500 residents. Wellington is spread over 442 square kilometers (171 square miles) and is often considered the windiest city in the world by average wind speed.

Wellington is one of the best places to live in the world ranking top on both the livability and the non-pollution rankings by Deutsche Bank in 2018. The city’s economy revolves around the finance, business services, and the government sectors while it continues to become an increasingly important hub of technology and innovation.


Hamilton is the seat of the Waikato region in the North Island of New Zealand. With a population of 169,300, the city ranks as the fourth-most populous in the country. Hamilton was home to several Maori villages including its Maori namesake, Kirikiriroa.

The town was named after Captain John Hamilton who led the Waikato invasion which led to the abandonment of most of these villages. The city spans a total area of 110.8 square kilometers (42.8 square miles).

Hamilton had been an important agriculture and service sector but since the establishment of the University of Waikato and the Waikato Institute of Technology, education and research have been the most important sectors going forward.


Tauranga is the fifth-most populous city in New Zealand with a population of 135,000. The city extends over an area of 168 square kilometers (65 square miles). One of the fastest-growing cities in New Zealand, Tauranga is also a main regional center for business, trade, culture, and fashion.

The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand’s largest port. Tauranga city spans a total area of 168 square kilometers (65 square miles). The Greater Tauranga region is a very popular tourist destination featuring several natural attractions and scenic locations ranging from pristine beaches and harbors to lush, green mountainsides with waterfalls and lakes.

Lower Hutt

Lower Hutt is the sixth-most populous city in New Zealand with a population count of 104,900. It is part of the Wellington metropolitan area with an urban sprawl of around 135 square kilometers (52 square miles).

The main industries of the city are meat processing and freezing, timber processing, and automobile assembly. Lower Hutt is also home to the largest television studio complex in the New Zealand and Australasia region located in the Avalon suburb.

While Auckland is now the center of film and television industry, Avalon continues to operate independently and still has seven film and television studios.


Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. With a population of 104,500, it is also the seventh-most populous city in the entire country. The city’s name comes from a Scottish name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The city is spread over 255 square kilometers (98 square miles).

Dunedin is home to the University of Otago, the country’s oldest university, and the Otago Polytechnic. Designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature in 2014, Dunedin is home to many other cultural institutions such as a large number of choirs, sports teams, and visual arts and performance venues.


Photo: Shutterstock

Palmerston North

Palmerston North is located in the southern region of the North Island in New Zealand. It is the eighth-most populous city in the country with a population count of 80,300. The city covers an area of 395 square kilometers (153 square miles).

Palmerston North is home to the Linton Military Camp, the Palmerston North Hospital and also a campus of Massey University. The city’s most important and celebrated cultural attraction is the Te Manawa, a museum of arts, science, and history. Te Manawa also includes the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

Palmerston North

Photo: Shutterstock

Most Populated Cities in New Zealand

Here’s a list of the largest cities in New Zealand, ranked by their total population.

6Lower Hutt104,900
8Palmerston North80,300
11New Plymouth55,300
14Hibiscus Coast52,400
18Upper Hutt41,000

How many of the largest cities in New Zealand did you know about? Leave a comment below!